I have a MacBook Pro that is almost always connected to one of two Thunderbolt displays. Sometimes it will also be connected to a USB headset. Every time I disconnect the headset the audio input and output gets set to the build in speakers. However, when the headphones are not plugged in, the display speakers should be used and I have to switch it back. Is there any way to set device priority similar to how you can do it with WiFi networks? It would be awesome if I could set a rule like "Prefer headset over Display over internal", just like I do for WiFi networks.

Sounds like a small problem, but it get's incredibly annoying throughout my day, because I switch between display speakers and headphones a lot.

2 Answers 2


Posted as answer just to be able to inline pictures...

Not really sure how to test this, as I don't have a Macbook - but what happens if you use Audio Midi Setup & mute the unwanted output? It might then skip it when you unplug the headphones.

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…or possibly setting up a Multi-Output device, set to be your default output, with only the used connections checked…

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  • Where is that screen? Using El Capitan 10.11.6 I don't see anything like it, just a really dumbed-down Sound screen.
    – Ed Randall
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 8:03
  • 3
    Applications/Utilities/Audio Midi setup
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 8:07
  • Have you (or anyone else) been able to test this? Does it accomplish what the querent is asking for? - I'm trying to figure out how (or whether it's possible) to have the MacBook use only my wireless headset for input/output when the headset is turned on, and use only my MacBook for (input/)output otherwise. My MacBook sometimes switches to my external HDMI-connected monitors for audio, but those monitors don't have speakers.
    – V2Blast
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 22:30
  • @V2Blast - I've never been able to test it, I'm afraid. I've never owned a laptop [or a headset]. I did at one time come up with an AppleScript to change output - Using Apple Script to Manage Sound Output Selection if that might be any use.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 7:40

I've created Recadio, an app which remembers your audio device input/output preferences. For a given combination of input and output devices, it switches back to your preferred input/output devices. If you select a different one, it'll be remembered.

It's not exactly setting devices priorities, but it solves the same problem. Setting priorities is one feature I'd definitely add if there's demand, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible to start.

Since it's a paid app and I don't want this to be spammy, I've created a discount code so people reading this post can get it for free. Feel free to redeem EARLYUSER at the store.

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